Seek Cover! Don’t Walk into Harm’s Way If You Don’t Have To…

Last week we showed you a short video that gave really good information about how many times you might need to shoot someone to stop a threat. But there was a lot more to that video that some of you may not have noticed. Here is that video again:

What else do you notice?

First up, let’s point out that the officer involved in the shooting could not have asked for a better location: flat, smooth concrete with nothing in his way as he was backing up to gain distance and time to get to his gun.

But what else do you see in the video? We can’t just focus on the bad guy. Remember, gunfights do not happen in a vacuum. When you pull out your gun, you might be focused on the threat, but you had better see the whole picture. So, let’s take a look.

Stop the video at the :37 mark. On the far right of the screen, under the awning, you see a court officer in plainclothes come into view. As the uniformed officer moves backward firing, the court officer moves forward, out onto the grass by the :39 mark, when the video cuts to the uniformed officer’s body camera.

At the 1:15 mark in the video, you can clearly, albeit briefly, see the court officer in the shadows under the awning on the right side of the doors. He may have been coming outside just prior to this point to assist in what he thought was going to be an arrest after Taser deployment, but by 1:15, the Taser has already failed and the bad guy is attacking the officer with a bat. The gun is up in front of the body camera at 1:16 as the offer retreats and issues a verbal command. If you stop the video at 1:17, you can see the court officer on the edge of the concrete near the front door while the officer is firing. He is about 10 to 15 degrees off the line of fire and in danger of being shot by his fellow officer. At the 1:18 mark, the court officer is out of the shadows and you can clearly see his white shirt and dark tie, just as the uniformed officer stops firing.

This incident could have ended in tragedy, because that court officer allowed his instincts to overcome his training and, indeed, his better judgment. He literally walked into a gunfight, and nearly into the line of fire.

I’m going to give the uniformed officer the benefit of the doubt here and say his motions from about the :34 mark to the :37 mark on the surveillance video show incredible situational awareness. He clearly moved to his right, toward the grassy area as he backed up. I’m saying he did this because he saw his fellow officers at the doorway. But no matter how much those officers wanted to help someone being attacked, they should have stayed in place and, in fact, sought better cover.

Had the uniformed officer tripped or had his pistol knocked off line by the charging attacker, he could have easily put a round into one of his colleagues.

The moral of the story is, as always: Incoming rounds have the right-of-way. When a gunfight starts, think first of moving to cover if cover is available. You can be accessing your weapon and even bringing it to bear, but do so as you move to your best available cover.

Don’t step into a downrange position if you don’t need to.